No Passport? Visit 3 Awesome Places in Puerto Rico

So you want to go to an island, but you don't have a passport. If you are in the U.S, without a passport there are a few place you can go...and Puerto Rico is one of them.

I am one of those people without a passport, which is limiting, however it is not the end all. My sisters and I recently took a trip to Puerto Rico, that was pretty awesome. There was plenty to do there, here are 3 of the places we visited that you can put on your checklist for your next trip there!

Isla Verde Beach, Carolina PR

Isla Verde Beach was one of the first spots we visited. I loved how calm and relaxing the beach was. We went in December, which we heard was cold for the locals, but for us the 80 degree temperature was perfect.


The thing I love most about this beach were the little food and bar stands. I hit a couple of them up for a Daiquiri in a pineapple and chicken on a stick. Delish! The water was beautiful too. Not super clear and blue, but was really nice.


Behind the beach is a street filled with plenty of stores to hit up. There's also a tiki bar in close proximity. 


Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

If you are looking to learn more about Puerto Rico culture you will really want to check out this museum. The art ranged from large pieces that spanned the whole wall to 3D life size murals.



I won't give away all the goodies with my pictures but I will say I was not disappointed. The museum is three stories high and even offers more pretty things to look at in its garden. The fish pond in the garden was beautiful!

Old San Juan

Old San Juan was amazing. When visiting this area, put on your walking shoes! There are literally so many streets to walk on that you probably won't see everything unless you dedicate a whole day to it. In the courtyard there was a live show. Ladies dressed in white showed a packed crowd dances that were native to Puerto Rico. Also apart of the show, was a female drum band. It was so interesting watching and learning more about the culture.


I loved the painted shops. Every building was a different color that blended together beautifully. We ran across an alley so pretty that we could not resist taking a picture.




We did quite a bit of shopping here for souvenirs. So if you are in need of some this would be the area to visit to find some great unique items.

So now you see, no passport, no worries! There are still options out there. Tell me, have you ever visited Puerto Rico? What were some of your favorite places?


DIY Labeled Bins



I recently discussed tips to get your bathroom organized. I got a lot of great feedback regarding the bin I used, so I figured I'd share more details behind those bins.


Here's what you'll need to make these bins:

Blue Painters Tape
Plastic Bins: I purchase clear ones for $4.99 and also used wastebaskets that were $2.99, both from Target
Mambi Sticker Letters: I purchase them from Hobby Lobby. The were 40% off of the original price of $7.99

This wasn't super hard to do. Start with you clear bin and make a straight line across with your painters tape. This will serve as the straight edge for placement of your letters.



Next, add the letter to the bins. Keep in mind the spacing of the letter and be sure to center your letter on your bin.


I used the hole are the top of the bin as my guide. For 4 letter words I made sure that the gap between the 2nd and 3rd letter was directly beneath the hole. For 5 letter words I made sure the middle letter was directly beneath the hole.




Once your letters are perfect you can remove your tape. The great thing about these stickers is that you can easily remove them if you need to re-position them.






I repeated the same steps on my blue wastebaskets. I thought the wastebaskets were a great color...so I went with it, and it worked! I absolutely love how they came out!


Will you be trying this project? If so, let me know and share a photo with me using hashtag: #BBGDTipsWork

How to Perfectly Organize a Bathroom


The bathroom, easily one of the most hectic places in the house. From making a morning mad dash getting ready for work to trying to keep all the kids bath toys off of the floor... the bathroom just becomes one of those places where things are all over the place.

This month, I'm partnering up with some awesome bloggers to bring you #10DaysofOrganizing. Check the links at the bottom of this post to read about how to get your home organized.

A couple weeks ago I showed you how to refresh your bathroom cosmetically. Today I'll be sharing how to get your bathroom organized. Follow these 4 easy tips for a perfectly organized bathroom.

1. Throw Away Old Products

In the bathroom many product tends to pile up. The ones that we don't use frequently ends up finding it's way under the sink. If you haven't used the product in the last 3-6 months it should be on it's way to the trash can. Once you purge everything you don't need or use you can begin to organize!

2. Organize Under the Sink

USE BINS & BASKETS

Under the sink can get really bad...at least at my house.  A great way to keep everything in its place is to put everything in designated areas. I picked up these clear bins from Target and updated them with the super cute Mambi stickers from Hobby Lobby. 


Another great thing about the bins is that they minimize the amount of clutter that can build up. If you don't have any more space in a particular bin, that will be a easy cue to know it's time to purge again.


ADD A SHELF

Adding a shelf under the sink allows for more organized storage. By adding a shelf I was able to place two smaller bins on one side of the sink where I could split my products into more categories.


3. Place Small Everyday Use Items in Jars 

Everyday use items such as cotton balls and Q-tips should be place in jars. Not only does it keep things organized, but it also looks more polished.


4. Add Additional Storage

There is only so much space under the sink for storage. When you need more space bring in small pieces such as an etagere or a rolling cart. The space behind your toilet usually goes unused so an etagere is perfect for that area.



A rolling cart is used in our bathroom to hold everyday items and also towels/washcloths.



Did these ideas help you? Is so, share a pic and tag #BBGDTipsWork
This post was in collaboration with some awesome bloggers. Check out the other bloggers below for more organizing tips!

Mon. Jan 9 – Andrea (Decorating Cents)
Tues. Jan 10 – Whitney (Whitney J Decor)
Wed. Jan 11 – Katrina (Chic Little House)
Thurs. Jan 12 – Nicole (She Does a Bunch)
Fri. Jan 13 – Crystal (Holliday Collective)
Sat. Jan 14 –  Carli (Fearfully and Wonderfully Made)
Sun. Jan 15 – Alaya (Behind the Big Green Door)
Mon. Jan 16 – Erin (Live Pretty on a Penny)
Tues. Jan 17 – Ashley (The Handy Homegirl)
Wed. Jan 18 – Saidah (Aprons and Stilletos)








How to Take Bright & Beautiful iPhone Photos

One of the most common questions I have received since becoming a blogger is, "What type of camera do you use?" ...the truth is that I do not own a camera. About 98% of my photography is taken from my trusty iPhone. B recently purchased a camera for himself which I have used a little, but I feel more comfortable with my iPhone. Over the years I have learned what works and doesn't work when taking iPhone pics.

This is an exhaustive list of my process and I hope it helps you!

STEP 1: CLEAN YOUR LENS
That's right, clean your iPhone lens. Think about all the dust, grit and grime that can get on your lens from tossing your phone in your purse or pockets. If you notice your photos are grainy and cloudy BEFORE snapping your shot a dirty lens is more than likely the culprit

STEP 2: FIND THE LIGHT
Lighting is super important when taking iPhone pics. I cannot stress how important this is.. it's super important! If at home and you want to take a flatlay picture find a window to take your pics nearby. Look at the difference in the pictures below. The first was taken in my kitchen that doesn't get much natural light.


On the second picture I moved the tray over to a window and snapped a photo. It made a huge difference in the colors


Now you don't want that bright harsh mid-day light...that light isn't great for pictures. You should take your pictures in the beginning or end of the day. If you like cool-toned photos (blueish-tinted) snap your pics in the morning and for warm-toned (yellow and orange tinted) photos take your pics close to sunset.

The main thing to remember is that natural light is king. Incandescent light is the enemy.

STEP 3: ADOPT PHOTOGRAPHER'S TECHNIQUES
RULE OF THIRDS
When taking photos on an iPhone you will notice the grid with 9 squares. I like to use this grid when deciding where I want the object to be in the photo. I like to playing around with putting my focus object on one of the points where the bottom horizontal and vertical lines cross. This is known as the rule of thirds. I'm not an expert on this so I'll let Wikipedia teach you the full on course.


Even if you don't initially take your photo like this, you can always crop your pictures to give this effect. I edited this photo I took of my friend at sunset.

Look at the before:


After cropping this photo to meet the rule of thirds techniques the picture looks way more interesting.


Do note, even with this tip, I do love a centered focused picture. This is just something to try when wanting to add some interest to your photos.

LEADING LINES
This is a technique where lines are used to draw the viewer's eye to the main focus of a photo. I find this is easier to do when out and about as oppose to doing interior photography. In this photo, that my friend took of me from her iPhone, we are using the lines of the side walk to draw your eye up to where I am standing.


Leading lines composition really make for beautiful and interesting pictures. Try this the next time you are out and about.

STEP 4: BE AWARE OF THE BACKGROUND
There's nothing worst than seeing a potentially pretty photo that only failed because of the background. Remove all items from your lens' view that clash with your photo. If there is something that you cannot remove, consider using a blur for the background.

STEP 5: USE THE FOCUS FEATURE
Your iPhone will auto focus for you on the image it thinks you are trying to capture. However, there may be times where you want to focus on a background image. To change the focus simply tap on the screen where you want the camera to focus. Here you can see I am taking the same picture but the focus is different based on me tapping the screen in different areas.

Here I tapped on the sky


and here I tapped on my knee



Holding my phone in the same location but tapping on different focus areas created two totally different pictures.

STEP 6: USE THE BURST
The burst feature is great to use when you have a moving object such as a kid or when taking pictures outside on a windy day. Simply hold down the shutter button when taking your pictures. Keep in mind this option takes about 10 pictures a second, so the longer your hold the button the more pictures will have. Afterwards go back through your photos and find your best shot.


On this burst shot, you can see our best photo is the last one, bottom right corner.

STEP 6: HOLD STEADY


Shaky hands will produce terrible pictures. Even if you move a little when taking a picture on an iPhone the photo will come out blurry. When taking your pictures hold still, even after you have snapped your photo hold still for another 2-3 seconds. I noticed when I move right after taking a photo it isn't as clear as when I remain steady for a few seconds.

STEP 7: EDIT YOUR PHOTO
I listed editting last because the goal is to take a good picture BEFORE needing to edit.

BRIGHTEN & CONTRAST
If you follow the 6 steps above your photo will need minimal editing. The main editing functions I use on every photo is brightening and contrast. The amount of contrast and brightening that I use depends on the look I am going for, but I always make sure that my contrast is greater than my brightening.

If you want a photo full of color, turn up the contrast higher. I mostly post my photos to Instagram and can do all the editing in the app, but I wanted to kick it up a notch so I downloaded VSCO. I prefer their contrast better than Instagram.

STRAIGHTEN
Most of the photos I take require some straightening. Using the grid function I mentioned earlier I find a straight edge in my photo to line up with the grid. Also, sometimes my images will look slightly curved or leaning to the left..not sure if it's because I'm a lefty or not.


I will use the horizontal or vertical straightening (available in Instagram or most photo editing apps) to straighten out my photo. As you can see here I had to use quite a bit of horizontal adjusting.


Notice on the picture on the top, the edge of the fireplace is crooked (slanting downwards) and also the fireplace on the left side looks distorted. I correct this by adjusting the horizontal aspect and straightened the edge of the fireplace with the grid. I layer these updates on top of the brightening and contrast.

CROP
The crop feature is your friend. I snapped some pictures while B did our daughter's birthday photoshoot. She wanted to wear her favorite boots which were pretty scuffed up. It was her birthday so we figured we would just let her wear them. That's where the handy crop comes in. I cropped out the toes of her boots.


of course I did my brightening/contrast and straightening and the picutre was perfect.

Read: 8 Ways to Make your Child's Photo Shoot a Success

STEP 8: POST AND ENJOY
The last thing to do is post your photo!

Check out the total transformation of one iPhone photo that I shared on my Instgram. Here I wanted the focus of my photo to be this flowers while still showing a little background. Also I wanted to hide the damage to my dining room table as much as I could.

I started by placing my floral arrangement in an area that had tons of natural light.


Next I boosted the contrast to bring out the pretty pink color of the roses.


Then I adjusted the horizontal perspective and straaightened up the photo.



Then to get rid of the paper I didnt want to show in the background I cropped my photo on the left side and on the bottom a bit.


Using the tilt shift function I blurred the background so the flowers in the foreground would pop.


..and lastly I brightened my photo.



Take a look at the before and after


I hope these tips have helped you. Share with me on Instagram, FB, or Twitter the photos you have taken using my suggestions through the hashtag. #BBGDTipsWork

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